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Afghanistan Ring Road Reconstruction

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Afghanistan Ring Road Reconstruction

Published 2003

Afghanistan Ring Road Reconstruction

Run time 9:37
Sponsor US Dept of State
Audio/Visual sound, color


December 16, 2003

“Ring Road Reconstruction” script, November 2003 (long version)
(from “Afghan 3” shoot)
Producer/Writer: Siri Nyrop
Videographer/Editor: Brian Young
Soundman: Michael Wilhelm
TRT: end of video 9’36

(Start with a video montage with dissolves, moving right to left (east to west) over graphic of Kabul-Kandahar map that highlights Kabul, Ghazni, Moqur (“villages”) and Kandahar when named in narration.)

Video: sound up traffic noise at Mile Zero in Kabul, follow traffic moving away
Narration: [#4, :01:48, :01:59] It starts in a traffic jam in Kabul… This is a journey that began…

Video: 2 B+W stills of original road in the 60’s
Narration: [B/W stills]… more than 40 years ago when the United States built a road to connect Afghanistan’s two largest cities…

Video: landscapes, Kuchis, camels
Narration: [#4, :14:01, :15:57, :22:59; #6, :49:28] It covers 482 km’s and winds its way through 5 of Afghanistan’s southeastern provinces…

Video: Ghazni pan right to left
Narration: [#6, :50:24]…. Through the ancient market city of Ghazni atop a plateau with an elevation of over 2000 meters…

Video: “ villages” and faces in Moqur, Sollar, Desert of Haji Karim
Narration: [#6, :57:43-:59:05, :28:38, :30:31, :30:55] It passes villages so remote that their people rarely venture beyond them…

Video: trav shot in Kandahar, end with old wall “gate”
Narration: [#2, :59:33, 1:02:06; #3, :08:21]… and finally rolls into Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second city, that was founded by Alexander the Great.
(end of montage = 49”)

“Ring Road Reconstruction” script, p. 2

Video: slow dissolve in and out of February 2003 video of bad road and traffic
Narration: [Feb ’03 pix] But after almost 25 years of neglect and warfare, the road deteriorated to a trace of its former self. Not just a long, uncomfortable ride but an obstacle to healthcare, education and the means to making a living. 15”

Video: map graphic of Afghanistan and total Ring Road with highlight on K-K portion
Narration: The Kabul to Kandahar Road forms the eastern arc of a road system that rings Afghanistan, connecting its major cities. 7”

Video: dissolve to road, villages, faces
Narration: In isolated villages, the road will bring access to distant schools schools and hospitals. Some people dream of going places they’ve never been before. Everyone looks forward to the road as a means of improving their life. 14”

MOS Villager in Moqur (in Dari) 14”
[#6, :19:32-:19:47] “The new road will make it easier for the sick to get treatment. Goods will arrive quicker and be cheaper. The trip will be more comfortable for people – 2 hours will be cut to a half hour, an 8-hour drive will take just 2 hours.”

Video: Louis Berger map graphic with sectioned road
Narration: The Louis Berger Group is in charge of this project. 5 subcontractors were assigned sections to rebuild by the end of this year. The government of Japan is responsible for the last 50 km’s leading to Kandahar. 14”

Video: back-time Quinn SOT
Narration: [back-time SOT] Pat Quinn is with the Louis Berger Group and traveled the road 30 years ago. 6”

SOT Pat Quinn, Louis Berger Group (in English) 20”
[#6, :43:01 – appx :43:20] “There was a very good road from Kabul to Kandahar. Over 25 years, that road disintegrated or disappeared. But there still is the alignment and the track. For this job we didn’t have to go out and find a new way to get from Kabul to Kandahar. We could follow the existing track all the way.”

“Ring Road Reconstruction” script, p. 3

Video: village with seam between Taliban Sec A and new Sec B road; USAID sign (jib shot)
Narration: Section A was the only part of the road that had been resurfaced since its original construction. Those 43 kilometers need no urgent work.
The seam between Section A and the brand new Section B is barely visible, but it marks the beginning of the hard work that started last summer. 22”

Video: sound up and various shots at crusher/asphalt plant
Narration: The project will have used over 2 million metric tons of aggregate and more than 100 thousand metric tons of bitumen. Aside from rock, none of the materials or equipment needed for the road was available in Afghanistan. It had to be brought in from a variety of countries and transported to this landlocked nation. This plant for crushing rock and preparing asphalt was built from scratch. 29”

Video: back-time Myers SOT
Narration: Jim Myers is the Project Manager for the Louis Berger Group. 4”

SOT Jim Myers, Ring Road Project Manager, Louis Berger Group (in English) 20”
[#4, :08:56 – appx :09:55 with cuts] “Everything was brought in. That’s an Italian batch plant that came from Italy. // Everything you see here in the way of equipment was brought in. // Loaders, dump trucks, you name it, it was brought in. There was nothing here. // All told it took about 3 and a half, 4 months to get up and running. Anywhere else it would take 3 weeks.”

Video: Turkish contractors’ work camp and plant
Narration: Each section along the road set up the facilities it needed. The subcontractors from Turkey and India also built housing for the staff they have brought in from their home countries, since there is no place for them to live locally. 13”

Video: dissolve in: BWS valley from elev with paving in distance
Narration: The hot and dry conditions in Afghanistan are good for construction in summer, but it’s a short season in altitudes along the road that can reach close to 3000 meters. 13”

“Ring Road Reconstruction” script, p. 4

Video: sound up noisy montage, ARC paving section, bridge construction
Narration: The Afghan Reconstruction Corporation, ARC, is the Afghan-Turkish contracting company in charge of Section B. The constant need for imported bitumen and diesel was always a concern, but this section was the first to be completed.
Aside from the road itself, there are bridges and culverts along the way that had to be repaired or rebuilt as well. That added to the need for local labor. 27”

SOT Dilaver Kara, ARC, Section B Project Manager (in English) 46”
[#4, :14:08 - :14;55] “We have in total on our payroll 560 people working, 140 of them are ex-pats, Turkish people, 420 local people on our payroll. We also employ 120 people to work on the extension of culverts. We do this also with masonry walls … this means we employ 550 locals from this region, so it helps.”

Video: various grading and paving from other locations, diversion, spectators
Narration: As parts of the road were under construction, it was still open to cars and trucks. Traffic moved on graded roadbeds, and when asphalt was put down, it was diverted to let the new surface set and dry.
The big machines drew local villagers, eagerly anticipating the completion of the road. Even at this stage the travel time was already greatly reduced. 23”

Video : demining activities
There is another benefit reconstruction is bringing to people living along the road. Afghanistan is littered with the debris of decades of warfare. Reconstruction could only proceed when the whole stretch was cleared of mines and unexploded ordnance. This not only makes travel safer, but also improves wider areas for villagers along the way. 20”

SOT Phil Ferraro, Demining Engineer, Louis Berger Group (in English) 32”
[#5, :27:16 - :27:49] “What we’re doing is basically demining a strip that is 20 meters wide on each side of the road from Kabul all the way down to Kandahar, 432 km’s. In addition to that we also have to demine large areas, for example where our camps are set up, where our plants are set up, all of those areas have to be demined. There are a lot of areas such as quarries, areas where we are doing excavation to take materials from the ground for fill areas along the road, we have to demine those areas as well.”

“Ring Road Reconstruction” script, p. 5

Video: deminers and dogs
Narration: Around one thousand pieces of unexploded ordnance and mines have been found along the road. Dogs can clear up to 3000 square meters per day, although armored detection vehicles handled most of the work more quickly, in order to stay ahead of road construction.
The greatest danger came from attacks by Taliban insurgents and their allies. Despite security personnel, there have been lives lost and work delayed for weeks at a time. 27”

SOT Phil Ferraro (in English) 30”
[#5, :31:08 - :31:47] “We had a time in April and May of this year, there were 14 specific incidents along this road, which caused us to withdraw our deminers from Ghazni south to Kandahar, when we didn’t do any demining for security reasons for a 7-week period. (We moved them north so we could work on Sections B and C on the road.) We had a couple more incidents when armed men actually came up to the deminers and threatened them that if they came back to work, they’d be killed, so we literally had to stop demining 100% for about 10 days.”

Video: back-time Jim’s SOT
Narration: For Project Manager Jim Myers, this has been the hardest part of sticking to a schedule on completing the road: 6”

SOT Jim Myers, Louis Berger Group, Project Manager (in English) 20”
[#6, :39:13 - :39:33] “The unknowns. You can plan something and have it destroyed overnight. Like a security incident. People get afraid, they don’t want to stay in an area and work. If you lose one day, it takes 2 days of production to break even. That’s difficult.”

Video: dissolve to road, villages, faces
Narration: [#4, :20:43] But the new road will make life less difficult. 3”

MOS Villager in Desert of Haji Karim (in Dari?) 17”
[#5, :38:39 –:38:59] “Goods come a long distance from other countries. Tariffs are high. When we have a good road, imports will arrive quicker, and we’ll pay less for transport. Things will be cheaper, and merchants will like that.”

“Ring Road Reconstruction” script, p. 6

MOS Villager in Desert of Haji Karim (in Dari?) 17”
[#5,:43:18 - :43:35 “When I go to Kabul for business, it takes me 5 hours. With the new road, it will take 2 hours. There won’t be all the dust either, that’s another benefit.”

[video: #4, roadside dancers]
Narration: This is a roadside celebration. 2 couples are getting married, and their families have journeyed down the road for the festivities. As one group joins up with the other for the last leg, the men turn the break into a cause for dancing.
A road brings people together. Rebuilding Afghanistan’s Ring Road network will bring a whole country together. 26”

The reconstruction of the Kabul to Kandahar Road is a major contribution to improving Afghanistan’s infrastructure for the long term. The U.S. has already begun initial work on the next portion of highway, continuing from Kandahar northward to Herat. Future reconstruction to complete the Ring Road circle around Afghanistan will be provided by the international community

It is a path to a better future. 30”


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